From Strikes to Symbolic Acts, ‘A Day Without a Woman’ Embraces Broad Front of Resistance
International Women’s Day builds upon the Women’s March on Washington with more leadership from women of color and deeper politicization among its participants, says journalist Margaret Prescod
KIM BROWN: Welcome to The Real News Network in Baltimore. I’m Kim Brown.
On Wednesday, March 8th, scores of rallies are planned for two intertwined events: International Women’s Day, and a Day Without A Woman, with the latter hoping to capitalize on the momentum that was on display at the Women’s March on Washington, after the inauguration of Donald Trump, back in January. Organizers are calling on women to wear red on March 8th, also avoid paid and unpaid labor, and a call to not go shopping, unless it’s a woman, or minority-owned, business.
Los Angeles is expected to draw among the bigger crowds on Wednesday, and today we’re joined with one of the organizers, who’s also a friend of The Real News, because she brings the real news every day, on her nationally syndicated radio show, The Sojourner Truth. Miss Margaret Prescod is here with us. Welcome back, Margaret.
MARGARET PRESCOD: Oh, good to be with you, Kim.
KIM BROWN: Margaret, tell us about what we can expect on Wednesday, March 8th. Because International Women’s Day is already an established event, but the Day Without A Woman, is sort of piggybacking on what was already planned for International Women’s Day. Help us clarify this, if you could.
MARGARET PRESCOD: Yeah. Let’s clarify it, because actually tomorrow will be the International Women’s Strike, taking place in more than 50 countries around the world. That strike was called for prior to the Women’s March on Washington. By women in Poland, Argentina, and other countries, the United States catching up rather late in the game. But it is an international strike; it has a very specific platform, about gender violence, labor rights, ending racism, discrimination, environmental rights, and more.
Now, on February 14th, the Women’s March on Washington announced a Day Without A Woman, would also be on March 8th, and they’ve issued a statement saying the Women’s March on Washington, stands in solidarity with the international Women’s Strike. So, there are International Women’s Strike activities happening, really around the world, more than 50 countries, from Thailand to Haiti, to Ireland, to Finland, to Poland, throughout Latin America, Brazil, Argentina, et cetera.
The Day Without A Woman, specifically happening in the United States, and both, A Day Without A Woman, and the International Women’s Strike organizers –- I’m one of the national coordinators of the International Women’s Strike –- have done our bes, to really try to work together, and be supportive of each other, and share the call for women to wear red, on that day.
KIM BROWN: You know, Margaret, I mean, the roots of this movement here in the U.S., go back over a hundred years, when in 1908, 15,000 women marched in the streets of New York City demanding shorter hours, higher wages, and the right to vote. And so many of these issues are still present in women’s lives. So, imagine where women would be, if a hundred years ago, these women didn’t start calling for these things to change, and marching.
Tell us how the plight of the woman, especially in the United States, but even across the globe, has changed ever since this movement initially began.
MARGARET PRESCOD: Yeah, and I should say, too, that this movement has built on previous strikes. The women in Iceland in 1975 went out on strike, and literally shut the country down. And after that, the first Prime Minister of Iceland was elected. And then to underscore their point, they did it again in 1980. And then those of us who are part of the women’s network, that I’m with, we started doing something called, Time Off For Women, in the mid-1980s. I’d actually forgotten about it, until a reporter said, “Are you the same people that did, ‘Time Off For Women’, in the 1980s?”
And several countries around the world, of course, inspired by the women in Iceland, and then the Global Women’s Strike, which began in 2000, we have been organizing every International Women’s Day since then. But this is the first time that it really is truly a global, international strike, with so many countries involved. Prior to that, there were countries like India, and Peru, the U.K., the U.S., some of the Caribbean countries, Ireland, involved in it.
But now, there are over 50 countries around the world, and everywhere we are, poverty is a main issue for women, reproductive justice, a huge issue, in places like Poland, Argentina, as well as Ireland. Of course, environmental justice, because women being the main caregivers, everywhere we are, we’re bearing the brunt of environmental devastation, as we do when there’s war, and when there’s occupation.
And labor rights. We still don’t have pay equity, included in the statement that will be read in all 50 countries tomorrow, includes a call for the recognition of the work of caregivers, and resources, for the work of caregivers. Of course, that includes mothers, and all of the un-waged caregiving work that we do, that internationally the value of which is over $16 trillion, but nevertheless, as women… and that’s just in our un-waged work, not to mention what we do in wage jobs.
But yet, women are still basically treated as though we’re charity cases, when we ask for childcare, or help for elderly dependents, and when we work… you know, as though we’re getting something, we’re asking for something, and we’re not making a contribution. I think that some of that is going to change after tomorrow, although we know that, in the United States in particular, it will look like a day of women’s resistance.
There are going to be some traditional strikes, school districts closing, et cetera. But for a number of women, they’re going to take whatever time they can. Some of us will take the full day. Some of us will take half a day. Cafeteria workers in some of the school districts that are not closing are planning on just wearing red in solidarity. Some women who work in call centers are going to do a one, or two-minute stand-up — right? –- In solidarity.
So, people are finding all kinds of creative ways to participate. We think that that’s really, really a good thing, and obviously building, of course, on the movement against Trump. About his announcement of yet another version of a Muslim ban, one cleaned up, so the no ban, no wall, healthcare for all, will also be a key issue. Not only in Southern California, but across the United States.
And, you know what, Kim? At 6:00 p.m., everywhere we are in the world, at 6:00 p.m., women are going to make noise. (laughs)
KIM BROWN: Well, Margaret, you know, you bring up a point that I wanted to have you expand upon, is I’m curious whether or not you have seen an influx of passion, either in the form of anger, or determination –- you spoke about the American International Women’s Day being framed as a day of resistance.
I mean, as you said, Donald Trump, is the President of the United States, who has openly bragged about sexually assaulting women, he has publicly degraded women. He is, you know… I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Donald Trump has some misogynistic tendencies himself. So, in the Age of Trump, have you noticed this year, a little bit more galvanization around March the 8th?
MARGARET PRESCOD: Oh, absolutely. It’s much more political. And in contrast with the Women’s March on Washington, Women’s Rights are Human Rights, the theme, right? If you look at the International Women’s Strike, and you go to the website at Womensstrikeus.org, you will see a very political, very laid-out platform, including one that’s anti-racist, anti-imperialist.
Standing, and supporting the Palestinian people, support for caregivers and labor rights, $15 an hour, reproductive justice for all -– this is a very political event. And you know what? It’s not a Saturday march. It’s happening in the middle of the week, right? So, that means that people who come out and participate, it’s a different kind of political statement.
Of course, the large marches are wonderful. They’re welcoming. They are are a big tent. This one, much more political, a lot more involvement by low-income women, of, women of color, and Kim, it makes sense, because given the fact that this is global, women of color are the majority, right?
So, people, some pundits who may claim now, this is a strike for the privileged, are really missing the point, from their privileged perspective, to really look and see who is at the leadership of the International Women’s Strike. Who are the participants in the International Women’s Strike? In Southern California, Black Lives Matter L.A. will be on the platform. The Black Women’s Health Project, immigrant women who are facing deportation, the Day Laborers Association.
I mean, these are the people that are coming together with people, like Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the Farm Workers Union, with Cesar Chavez. But at the other end of the spectrum, where Jane Fonda has endorsed the International Women’s strike.
So, it really is a coming together across sectors, but in a lot of ways we see a lot more involvement, and activity. What I would call the base, than we have seen before. And that’s a good thing, because you build from the Women’s March, to the International Women’s Strike, and on May 1st, there’s another strike that’s being planned that will involve everybody — everybody who cares to participate — and we’re hoping to see labor unions and others, involved in that one.
And, of course, traditionally in the last few years, May 1st has been the day that the immigrant community in particular, have made their power, and their presence, felt on the street.
So, it’s a continuum, and in the Age of Trump, with a man with white supremacist contacts in the White House. Trump’s background of racism in housing in New York City and more, a lot of people are realizing this is what time it is. You know, Kim, I was shocked to find out this morning that in Arkansas, a piece of legislation has been introduced to ban the book of Howard Zinn, the great historian Howard Zinn, who wrote, “The People’s History of the United States”. They want to ban his book in schools, in public schools.
So, there’s a lot at stake here. Women are in the leadership of this, and I don’t think that that’s an accident, because women have always been central in every social movement. But a lot of times very much in the background, and have also had to face a lot of sexism, frankly speaking, in those movements, as well. So, it’s a really exciting time.
It’s an empowering time. A lot of people involved are really, truly exhausted, but it’s a very good exhaustion, Kim, because we just have to keep on going. There’s a lot at stake.
KIM BROWN: Absolutely. And we appreciate all the efforts that you, and your cohorts, have expended in order to make this march, and these protests, and these days of solidarities for women across the country, and across the world happen.
So, Margaret, we want to thank you for that. And thank you for joining us, and talking to us about it today.
MARGARET PRESCOD: Thank you so much, Kim. Thank you.
KIM BROWN: We’ve been speaking with Margaret Prescod. She is the nationally syndicated radio host of The Sojourner Truth. You can listen to her on the Pacifica Network, across the country.
She’s also one of the organizers of International Women’s Day, which is happening Wednesday, March the 8th. If you’re not able to actually attend a protest, or a rally, wear red in solidarity.
Margaret thanks again. And thank you for watching The Real News Network.